Today’s Recent Sips segment features three pleasing sparkling wines from Italy's Franciacorta DOCG (Denominazione di Origine Controllata e Garantita). I had an opportunity to try these wines for an enjoyable and informative virtual tasting put on by the good folks at Balzac Communications and Franciacorta USA. When most people hear the phrase, “Italian bubbles," Prosecco, Asti, and Lambrusco are usually the first things that come to mind. These sparklers have better name recognition in the US, are more widely available, and easier to find than Franciacorta. But don’t let that deter you from asking your local wine shop if they carry any Franciacorta or can get some.
Inside a Flute of Franciacorta
Sparkling wines from Franciacorta are produced using the méthode traditionnelle process as they do in the Champagne region of France. This process involves the wine undergoing a second fermentation in the bottle. The grapes used in Franciacorta DOCG sparkling wines are Chardonnay, Pinot Nero (aka Pinot Noir), and up to 50% of Pinot Bianco (aka Pinot Blanc). The region, located in Lombardy (northern Italy), has produced still (not effervescent or sparkling) wines since the 16th century. However, starting in the 1960s, area vintners worked together to collectively make a name for themselves as a serious, high-quality sparkling wine region. As a result, Franciacorta became the first Italian wine region to exclusively produce sparkling wines made in the traditional method. Franciacorta is also the first sparkling wine to obtain Italy’s highest appellation award of DOCG.
Sushi and Franciacorta
While Franciacorta uses the same method and two of the three grape varieties as Champagne (Chardonnay and Pinot Noir) to produce their sparkling wines, the region takes advantage of its cooler temperatures and makes its own diverse, individualistic styles of bubbly. Unlike Champagne however, the region does not struggle to ripen fruit, therefore you may detect more richness and fruit flavor/ intensity in their sparkling wines. For further information and where you can find these wines, see my tasting notes below. Lastly, keep in mind that sparkling wine is not just for special occasions but for any occasion. And the bubbles from Franciacorta are good to keep in your sparkling wine rotation!
Bellavista Franciacorta NV Cuvée
Review: Bellavista Franciacorta NV Cuvée (SRP $35): This wonderfully refreshing sparkling wine is composed of 80% Chardonnay and equal parts Pinot Noir and Pinot Blanc. It shows pleasant aromas and flavors of citrus blossom, wild flower, almond, subtle ginger tones, and muted spicy yeast rolls. A fine but sparse bead gives way to a racy structure, good texture, and a lingering, refined finish. Overall, this is a moderately complex, food-friendly and affordable sparkler that improves in the glass as it shifts from chilled to cellar temperature. (Other info: ABV 12.5%, Ferments and ages for 7 months in small oak barrels.) 89 Points. Click here to find this wine.
Antica Fratta Franciacorta Brut NV
Review: Antica Fratta Franciacorta Brut NV (SRP $25): This pale straw colored sparkler is enticing and lively with a frothy mousse leading to aromas and flavors of mature tree fruit, honeyed brioche, and (zesty) citrus undertones. The wine’s vibrant character makes it an ideal aperitif or a pleasing “any occasion” sparkler. It’s also the perfect partner to a wide variety of foods. I enjoyed a glass with a tasty platter of sushi. Clearly, bubbles are not just for special occasions or holiday celebrations when you can pick up a bottle like this for two Hamilton bills and a Lincoln. (Other info: ABV 12.5%, Traditional Method, 100% Chardonnay.) 88 Points. Click here to find this wine.
Lo Sparviere NV Satén
Review: Lo Sparviere di Gussalli Beretta Franciacorta NV Satén (SRP $25): Sparkling wines from Franciacorta labeled Satèn are made exclusively from white grape varieties. The bottle pressure for these wines is slightly lower than other styles resulting in a more textured mouth-feel and relaxed mousse. This wine is 100% Chardonnay. It offers aromas and flavors of bright tree fruit, white flowers, and toasty notes with a burst of effervescence and citrusy acidity giving way to a pleasant, textured mouth-feel and medium-length finish. Overall, this wine is an ideal aperitif or a good accompaniment to light hors d'oeuvres and cheeses at a budget-friendly price point. (Other info: ABV 13%, 24 months aging on lees, 20% fermented in oak where it undergoes malolactic fermentation, remaining 80% in steel.) 87 Points. Click here to find this wine.
Backyard Feathered Friend: Northern Cardinal
Have a question about this post? Feel free to drop me an e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or hit me up on Facebook or Twitter. Stay tuned ...more to come. Happy Sipping, my friends! Disclosure: These wines were provided for review. Thoughts are my own.
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